Month: November 2016

Holding Hands Today For A Better Tomorrow

I didn’t sleep at all Election night, though I went to bed about 4 a.m. GMT still praying for a miracle for Hillary Clinton. And at 5.22 when I couldn’t help searching out my I-pad in the dark and checking the BBC’s website, I still had this hope. But around 7 a.m. when my I-phone’s alarm stirred me,  though I was wide awake, I turned the television on just in time to see the Clinton hopefuls sent away from the Javits Centre. It was then that I asked Paul if he didn’t mind if we didn’t watch the news any longer.

I re-drew the blinds and crawled back into bed and set my alarm for about 9 a.m. and attempted to go to sleep. But all I could do was listen to my heart pounding, feel my stomach hurting, and then the tears pushing through. I must have lay in my bed for some thirty to forty minutes weeping desperately and passionately. And even when Paul came in to console me, I couldn’t stop the pain, the emptiness, a longing for something, something that evaded me.

So when the time seemed reasonable, I called a local friend, who is not American, but has lived there and continues to love and cherish the country as her own. A compassionate, reasonable person, I knew I could seek refuge in her, a place to openly and honestly talk about how I felt. I thank her dearly for being there for me, for answering my call. And for another friend who called later to see how I was faring. 

But it was only when I hung up from her and texted two long-standing American friends that this expat began to piece together the emotional quagmire I found myself in. Not only was I feeling a bit confused, dumbfounded, I was feeling the heartache of loss, something that sits deep within the gut and churns. And in this state, I longed for something that had passed, something that no longer existed.

This loss reminded me of a personal time when I saw the values around me change, when I experienced things that I thought could never happen in my world. This loss reminded me of when the unreasonable becomes reasonable, when the abnormal becomes normal. When the very values that life, community has been built on become devalued, when the world crumbles.

In that moment, I crawled out of bed, put the alarm off and headed for the shower. Now all I could seem to think about was my 13-year-old niece. Four years is a long time, I mumbled to myself. She’ll be 17 when this is all over and done with – a big part of her life will have been shaped.

And as the tears returned and I wept for Jana and for young women all over the US, young men, too, I asked God what could I do to hold her hand, if only metaphorically, and though I didn’t get an answer immediately, I had a sense that it had something to do with keeping the faith.

When I sat to read my scripture for the day—I have been doing so for more than a year now through my church, The Bible in One Year, I read these words from Psalm 21: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?…

And then I reviewed what Nicky Gumbel, our vicar, had to say about the psalm. “Regret looks back. Fear looks around. Worry looks in. Faith looks up.”

At that moment, I reflected upon the state of worry I had been in all night and into the morning and though it still resides within me on some level, I decided then that it would have no permanent place in my gut.

I would have to look upwards and onwards, if I was going to be of any use to anyone. On this note, I encourage anyone who shares my grief to do the same thing. We must look to the future but in doing so remember that what we do today defines it definitively—the future, that is.

On that note, I leave you with words from an email from Hillary Clinton to supporters:  “Our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.”

Yes, Hillary I will, and not just for me, and for you and what you stand for, but for Jana and her generation, for Chandler and Chas, and theirs, too, and for everyone, with a view to re-shape, restore morals and values that will serve us steadily now and forevermore.


TAKE A WORLD VIEW: VOTE for Peace and Quiet

Who can keep quiet on this election day, certainly not the candidates. And I certainly cannot.  But speaking out encouragingly and peacefully to friends and family about getting out to vote is not be the only thing you can do to participate in America’s political process.  Though it is important, your vote is equally as important. So above all else get out and vote today if you haven’t already.

So many folks have asked me if I still have the right to vote and if so how does it work. The short answer is I’m an expat, not a dissident–I believe in democracy, even when it doesn’t do exactly what I want it to do personally. Of course, I still have the right to vote; I didn’t give up my citizenship and yes, I vote at every given opportunity, in local elections, too, via an absentee ballot.

My vote is resting now in the local county of my resident, waiting to be counted. Get yours in today, so it can be counted, too. And if you’re still undecided, check out my blog about this serious matter. Now, go and vote!


For A Good Time In London

Travelling to London soon? Not to worry there is plenty to do here, both on and off the beaten track, and not all of it will cost you an arm and a leg. But do count your pennies before leaving home – you will likely need them. Though an expensive city by anyone’s measures, London has plenty on offer that is gratis, too, as well as lots to do somewhere in between.

Having lived here some eighteen years, I can vouch for that and often do when offering visitors advice on what’s hot and well, what’s not.

But recently when asked to make some suggestions for someone who will be celebrating her 50th birthday here in November, I decided to give it some real thought from the eyes of a local, if you will. How would I describe My London, the bits that bring a good visitors guide to life? Don’t leave home without one, a visitor’s guide that is, which is the first suggestion I can offer. Though I don’t have a favourite, I would suggest one that suits your lifestyle and budget for food, for example.

There’s nothing worse than showing up to an alleged fine restaurant, which is teaming with youthful folks happily sharing a small table and loud noise. Okay, there are a few things worse but the point is use a guide that suits you.

The second bit of info I’ll share is to use your human resources, if you have any. Not everyone knows me, thankfully, but most people know someone who knows someone. Locals often have inside information, even about the big attractions, how to avoid the crowds and so on, which leads to the next need to know bit of information – avoid train stations/the tube during rush hour.

Sure, it is the fastest mode of transport in London but can be the most uncomfortable when everyone is trying to get home after a gruelling day at work, which is why I often suggest a river bus instead, if it will get you where you need to go. And if it doesn’t, take a river boat tour at your leisure; it’s a wonderful way to see the city.

In other modes of transport, when walking is not in order, there are always the London black cabs, zipping in and out of traffic and these days, plenty of Uber taxis waiting in the wings. And of course, the London bus is always one stop away along your route. Also, check out the hop on and off tours, a good way to get around and learn a bit, too.

Now with the general info sorted, where does one start?

  • Knightsbridge, if you ask me. While some think the glamorous shopping haven is either overrated or so yesterday, I still love it today. With both Harvey Nichols and Harrods at the centre and Sloane Street running through it, there is something for everyone, if only window shopping. In addition, there are plenty of high street shops. But if it is all a bit too much for your pocketbook; plan a trip to Hackney Walk, the trendy outlet centre in Hackney, which is a bit off the beaten path but worth the trek.
  • Other shopping areas include Fulham Road and general area in South Kensington. One of my favourite shops is Carven. Also, there is the busy Oxford Street, too busy for me, but occasionally I head over to Selfridges and then to Liberty on Regent’s Street for a quieter, gentler shopping experience.
  • Shopped out and just need some culture. My BFF’s favourite museum, the Victoria & Albert, is just down the road from the Knightsbridge shops. Not only is it grand to look at outside, it is fascinating inside with over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity.
  • For more culture, head to my favourite art gallery, The Royal Academy. Tucked away in a quiet corner in Piccadilly, it’s just beautiful. Other galleries scattered about town include the Tate, and the Tate Modern. And recently, I went to the Newport Street Gallery, with works drawn from Damien Hirst’s art collection. A little off the beaten path, but it is all the rage.  Back to the centre, however, for a bit of English tradition take a tour of the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. Lucky me, I tagged along with my husband for a private tour recently. 
  • For food on the go, the museums and galleries have cafes and restaurants and in Knightsbridge, check out the trendy 5th floor at Harvey Nichols.  From sushi to burgers and lobster, it is all there but if you are looking for something a bit more upscale, try Bar Boulud at the Mandarin, but you might want to book ahead of time to secure a space.
  • Fine restaurants for an evening out – lots of choice there! Recently, I went to Kai in Mayfair and had a wonderful time. A bit off the beaten path is Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, another all time favourite. Both to be booked well in advance. 
  • Just want to hang out – now we are talking gratis. From strolling along Piccadilly to sitting around Trafalgar Square, hanging out in London is amazing. These days, I am surprised at how often visitors miss the the South Bank, a buzzy area that always excites.  Just across the Embankment. Easy peasy!
  • And there is, of course, Covent Garden. With piazza after piazza and street artists on every corner, you will never bore there, which leads to where to end the evening.
  • Dinner is always in order and theatre in the West End is highly recommended for anyone, but certainly for a special celebration. On that note, I thought I would make a recommendation and could not believe that I have hardly seen anything lately that is still on, except for some of the long running musicals, for example. What does this mean? Time to catch a play. Hint!
  • Last but not least, check out the plethora of churches, chapels and cathedrals from Westminster Abbey to St. Paul’s. And if you want to go to a service,  Holy Trinity Brompton, where I attend, welcomes everyone.

That about covers it, right! It doesn’t even scratch the surface, but it’s a start. The key to enjoying London is to plan strategically and then pace yourself. But throughout it all, you can’t miss the most fascinating bit, if you ask me–its views, not only from the likes of the Shard, the London Eye, but from the boats, the buses, the bridges, the ground. See this great city for what it is, wherever you tour. That’s really all you need for a good time in London.